Aviagen’s global expert, Richard Obermeyer, shares advice for reducing the occurrence of pathogens before they can enter the food chain.
The four steps to biosafety at the poultry feed mill are:
Keep equipment and environments dry;
Eliminate the spread of pathogens;
Cleaning and disinfection;
Elimination of pathogens.
Step 1: Keep equipment and environments dry
There are many vectors for the transfer of pathogens, and water is one of them. The biosafe feed processing facility must be kept dry and free of any standing water at all times.
“The presence of standing water must be avoided at all costs, as it becomes a reservoir for bacteria and a large vector for viruses and Salmonella,” he said. “Vehicles drive through water, people step on it, while birds, rodents, and other animals drink from it, and that’s how pathogens spread.”
One place where water can accumulate is in the vehicle disinfection system. Vehicles entering a biosafe area must be washed before being disinfected, but water must not accumulate inside the wheelhouse. An inadequate drainage process results in standing water, as some disinfectants can dissipate or volatilize within two to three hours after application, and any residual water that remains standing can turn the disinfection station into a bacterial reservoir. Obermeyer adds that these disinfection stations, along with any disinfection method, must be validated with routine sampling to confirm their effectiveness.
Another area for potential water-related problems is the feed ingredient receiving area, which must be dry and clean at all times. Covers for the raw material receiving area (hopper) and surrounding areas can be used to help minimize the possibility of water or other materials entering the unloading area. However, they must be monitored and maintained regularly. The hopper should be small enough that the vehicle’s wheels do not come into contact with it, and constructed in a funnel shape to minimize spillage during unloading. Any spills must be cleaned up immediately and before any further movement of the vehicle into the raw material/hopper receiving area.
Finally, it is important that processing and storage areas are adapted to keep rain and moisture away from input processing and storage equipment.
Step 2: Eliminate other pathogen vectors
Dust, rodents, wild birds, vehicles, and pedestrian traffic are also possible propagators of bacteria and viruses.
“Salmonella thrives on organic materials such as dust,” explains Obermeyer, as it provides food and an effective means of possible cross-contamination if contaminated dust enters biosafe areas.
“Rodents, insects, and birds are all hosts for bacteria and viruses,” he adds, as as soon as the pathogens are ingested, they will be disseminated throughout the feed factory. “Once these pests take shelter, it is very difficult to eliminate them completely. Therefore, the main focus must be to keep them at a distance from the beginning.” Open buildings are an invitation for rodents and wild birds to occupy spaces, so they must always be closed and protected with the adoption of adequate procedures for protection against birds and rodents.
The daily flow of people and vehicles can also spread pathogens throughout the feed mill. It is very important to separate vehicles carrying raw materials from all other facilities. “Raw material delivery drivers cannot access the interior of the feed mill,” comments Obermeyer, and they must have a separate waiting area and toilets. The facility must direct the flow of raw material traffic, using signage with specific instructions for drivers and delivery people. Gates, fences, and locked doors also help keep employees and visitors in their respective areas.
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